When you take a calcium supplement for stronger bones, it might be a bit of a risk. After all, there is no guarantee that what you’re taking will go where you want it to.
It is possible that the additional calcium migrates from your bones and into your heart valve, where it could raise problems and significantly increase the risk of heart failure.
A new study says that supplementing with calcium may lead to a higher risk of heart-related deaths or death from any cause. It determines that people 74 or older, who took calcium supplements, were more likely to need surgery to replace their aortic valve.
Results also showed that people taking calcium plus vitamin D supplements had a doubled risk of heart-related death. In contrast, those taking calcium alone were nearly three times as likely to need a heart valve replacement as those who did not take them.
The study suggests that calcium supplementation may contribute to aortic stenosis. It is when the aortic valve, which is the main blood outflow valve of the heart, stiffens or narrows. It can block blood flow out of the heart to the rest of the body.
In normal circumstances, the valve opens to about the size of a quarter. But in about 5 percent of people over 75, the valve becomes calcified and does not open as wide as it should.
If it gets to the point where it can only open to about the size of a dime, it is a critical situation that could be a risk of heart failure or death.
This new study tracked the heart health of 2,600 patients, average age of 74, that already had mild to moderate calcification in their aortic valve. Tracking lasted for an average of 5.5 years.
Researchers found that over the study period supplemental calcium plus vitamin D increased the risk of death from any cause by 31-percent, while calcium alone was linked to a 24-percent higher risk of all-cause mortality.
There is more work required to determine if, and how, calcium supplementation influences heart health. Previous research has had conflicting results.
Eating more calcium is the safest way to avoid this issue. Research shows that these risks are not associated with dietary calcium, only when it is taken in supplemental form.